06 May, 2007

Gaia versus Christ - The Happy Homemaker

Homemaking is women's work.

Gaia is a woman.

Jesus is not a woman.

Therefore it's only natural that Christians are raping the earth with their right-wing republican agenda of feeding big business, and repressing anyone who seeks everyone's good, instead of just that of male protestants.

The fate of humanity rests in the filia of little algea trying to revive the Gulf of Mexico's dead zone, forests trying to scrub the air of carbon dioxide, and the minds of humans seeking a way back to balance with nature. Any of countless disasters could give Gaia an opportunity to start over again, without the blight of humanity. This is a sad, sad story, because Gaia made us a fine home, and then evolved us perfectly to fit within it. We are tailor-bred to enjoy green grass, blue skies and red dirt (I'm from Northern California, where all the dirt is red - the rest of you can just imagine), but in our greed we have consumed far more of her bounty than we have returned, so we are in danger of losing it all - for every species on our planet.

Gaia perfected the earth for us without our help, and she can fix all the damage we've done, if we learn to understand her ways. We are neither the first nor the worst environmental disaster to happen under her watchful care, and everything we've done is natural after a fashion. We made this mess by indulging our ancient evolutionary instincts, so if we can just retrain those instincts to match our new mental capabilities, we can advance the destiny of our race. We can learn to care for the entire planet, not just ourselves, and we restore this place to the pristine garden it was for the last few million years.

That's Gaia's stand.

Can Christ do as good a job as Gaia of saving the earth?

It is here that Christians begin to stumble a little. Here, some good Christians begin to have a real problem answering for Christ.

One group shouts, "Yes! Christ will melt the elements of this planet, and make a new heaven and earth, and we will live forever in heaven." These like the Earth, but don't feel very responsible for it.

Another group pledges, "Yes! Christ put us here within this earth, and it is our responsibility to fit into the rhythm of life." These believe restoring this Earth for Christ is almost as high a calling as preaching the gospel.

Yet another group intones, "No. All of creation groans until it can be put out of its misery. Sin has destroyed this creation, and now it is just waiting for the day it hits the dustbin." These hate the Earth for what it has become, and eagerly await the chance to yank it off life-support.

And Gaians just snicker, because the debate is being held in Gaia's house, framed in her language.

The Gaian frames the debate in Christian terms, because he is so open minded he can accommodate the Christians' narrow perspectives, but that reframing is an illusion. The words become Christian, but the foundation of the debate is as pagan as ever it was. The Gaian will refer to humans as created, and the world as cared for by its designer, and the ecosphere as a divine plan, but in the end the critical points are the same. The Earth is our home, and man is a part of nature.

But the debate is not being held in Gaia's house. Gaia is squatting in the King's house, and she will learn how large a mistake that is. God did not give this planet to anyone. He left it in the care of His children, and they lost it to their enemy. Satan tempted Jesus, offering Him ownership of this planet, but what offered was only his by theft - not by gift or wage. On that day, the King allowed Himself to be taunted, but the King is returning and soon He will rip what is His from the hands of His enemies.

This place was given to God's children, and it was called into existence for us to make something of it. It is in our nature to create, and to perfect, and to protect. Gaia would have us fit meekly into the ecosystem alongside all the animals, but that is not our place. The Earth and all its living systems are gifts to us and responsibilities. We are not to sink into the grass beside the animals, but to lift them to the heights of honor along with us. The lowest mutt carries himself with high dignity when he knows he is serving a higher purpose, and we are charged to give him that.

Man can elevate the entire earth.

We were created for this.

A meadow is beautiful, but a garden is a glory to God, man and plant together.

Gaia tells half-truths. Yes, the greed of man has raped the earth, but her answer to our sin is wrong. Gaia would have us lost in the web of life, indistinguishable from the world around us. She would have us camoflage the image of God, and lose our humanity into the zoo around us. She would have us dedicate our lives to transforming civilization into the image of nature.

Christ would have us rest.

Christ saved the world. That is in the past tense. It waits to be revealed what the sons of God will be, and what the earth will be, but it waits to be revealed. It is already there. The new earth is waiting, already bought and paid for by its King.

Everything we do in this age is a testimony to the work He has already finished. So, yes, we work and we work hard, but we work in the calm assurance that the work is already done. We wait here for the miracle of revelation that Christ will unveil at His coming. We wait with our hands on the plow, and we work toward His revealed goal, but we have a Hope. And we, in turn, are Earth's highest hope.

Yes, Save the Earth. But save Christ's Earth, and save it by saving men who will learn to love the things that Christ loves. We are called to make this house a home, and in Christ's finished work our work will bear fruit.

16 comments:

Mike Morrell said...

Hiya Kevin! Long time no speak. Wow, you've written a doozie! Fascinating. But I'm curious: Do you think that too many Christians (more than 5%, even) are really over-reacting to our present ecological crisis? What about people in general? I don't think most people (of faith or otherwise) really give a da*n...some would argue (and I know you're familiar with this line of thought in other contexts) that the pendulum has swung so far toward raping the earth, that it needs to swing equally far into the "no-impact zone"--and fast.

But like you, brother, I don't fall into extremes-as-course-correction thinking. I'd rather get it balanced, and so I applaud your attempt, at least, to articulate a holistic response.

But where would you have the family of God go with this? How would you have us respond? I, for one, applaud the work of the Christian ecology movement. I feel that they (We, but I could be doing so much more) are doing authentic theology and spirituality from a distinctly Christian perspective. Sure, we can learn valuable things from the "Gains" (as you put it) and even work alongside them at times--I hope we can quite often, in fact. But I agree, our spiritual motivations and underpinnings might well be different at crucial junctures.

But let's talk theology for a second. Are you sure that this planet and our solar system are literally going to be obliterated? Are you positive that creation is still groaning? What if the "world" the first-century friends of Jesus viewed as doomed was the Old Covenant World and not the place that God created? Because to me, we'd have a schizoid God whose Son instructs us to pray "Your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven" and "I'm going to destroy all of this" in the same breath.

To me, in the end, I think the Christian environmental problem is really an eschatological problem. We do not recognize apocalyptic idiom or covenental language. In our efforts to be faithful to the text, we overlook the forest for trees, pitting "restoring this Earth for Christ" against "preaching the gospel." What if God's eternal purpose is so much more cosmic in scope than we've realized?

codepoke said...

Thanks for the thought-filled comment, Mike.

This post is #3 in a series of 4 posts directed against the Gaian philosophies. I could have done a lot more to articulate my thoughts on Christians' responsibility toward the planet, but I was focused specifically on the contrast between a planet-focused approach versus a King-focused approach. One of these days, I should probably write a little bit about what we could do/should do, but I'm not ready for that yet.

I recycle, buy terrapasses for my flights, eat organic from local farms when it makes sense, and generally try to not to make things worse, but I'm not really DOING anything. For example, I don't garden. I barely mow my lawn. I should probably fix that before I go too deeply into preaching on what we should be doing. (I do rock-garden, though. I hope to post some pictures of that some day when the mood takes me.)

Do you think that too many Christians (more than 5%, even) are really over-reacting
I agree. There's a lot of "let the earth go" thought out there, but when Christians go green, it seems to me that they naturally go with a Gaian vocabulary and mindset. Let's don't try to fit into the ecosphere, but let's try to prepare it for our King. I'm not familar with the CEM you linked (thank you), but I'm sure I'll like a lot of what they are doing.

Are you sure that this planet and our solar system are literally going to be obliterated?
Curse my poor writing again. No, I am almost positive that this is the Earth that Christ will renew, and that we will have the blessing of restoring it after Christ's parousia. So, yes, I agree completely that this is an eschatolgical issue. I'm not sure that either eschatology puts God in as tight a bind as you see, but I would say the kingdom is here invisibly today with visible benefits for the whole world, and will be here in full after Christ's return.

Thanks for all the thinking!

Lynne said...

I think Australia (which is a more "secular" society) has gone further down the environmentalist track than America. It is beginning to irritate me, since a lot of sloganeering is based on both bad philosophy and junk science. We try to live as responsible stewards, we are not called to panicky over-reaction.

karen said...

wow...a convicting, edifying, and encouraging post! Well done, brother!

Milly said...

This was a good one to sit watch on. ;-}

Milly said...

I am surprised you don't grow a tomato or two in a pot on the porch. If the rain would stop long enough here I’d plant a strawberry and bring home a tomato plant for my porch.

codepoke said...

Lynne,

I'm anything but sure that America is doing better than ya'll. :-)

Our slogans can't possibly be any better!

codepoke said...

Milly,

I had no idea it was possible to grow a tomato or two. ;-)

Two years ago, when I did plant the garden, we tomato'd out in a hurry.

codepoke said...

Thank you, Karen

salguod said...

... Gaia made us a fine home, and then evolved us perfectly to fit within it. ...

... We made this mess by indulging our ancient evolutionary instincts, so if we can just retrain those instincts to match our new mental capabilities, we can advance the destiny of our race.


So ...

She evolved us to perfection and then we followed our evolutionary instincts to mess it up.

I'm confused, is evolution good or bad? :-P

Great series.

Milly said...

Yep those things can really take off. I try to hit a farm or two in the summers to get my vegies but having something in the back is better. The problem I have is the big dog who stomps them so we pot the plant and enjoy the birds that visit.

codepoke said...

Hey Salgoud,

I'm not sure my intent is clear to all, so I am going to say this explicitly. I believe that you have got it, but I'll say it anyway. Part One of each of these three posts has been the Gaian point of view. Part Two is the Christian counterpoint. If I get the fourth post written, it will not have a Gaian point of view for reasons that are obvious to me, and probably only me.

To your actual comments, Yeah. The self-contradictions of evolution are really challenging.

Mike Morrell said...

Hi Kevin,

Thanks for your response to my response. : ) I will be reading the rest of the series with anticipation, and will be linking you to zoecarnate if you don't have any objections.

Missy said...

"I'm not sure my intent is clear to all, so I am going to say this explicitly..."

Ahhh! So Gaia is from Northern California!

Again, I am digging your style, and I think I am totally getting where you are going. But, you've been known to surprise me before! Looking forward to more.

codepoke said...

No problem, Mike, and you know we're all slaves to linkage.

You guys have done an amazing job out there of gathering connections. I will have to do some exploring at some point. Wow.

codepoke said...

Missy,

Ahhh! So Gaia is from Northern California!
That's cold! ;-)

And nice tie-in to my stomping grounds. One more clue, and I'd have been wondering if I were Gaia!